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Jury Deliberating Fate of Suspects in Police Officer Killing


Feb. 3, 2007 — A 12-member jury will decide the fate of four men charged in the 2004 murder of V.I. Police Officer Cuthbert Chapman at the Wendy's restaurant in Sunny Isle Shopping Center.
The 10 women and two men began deliberating after they received the case Friday afternoon. Chief District Court Judge Raymond Finch, who is presiding over the trial, adjourned court shortly thereafter. Jurors will resume deliberations on Monday.
To reach a verdict, they must weigh and wade through four weeks of testimony and various documents and evidence, including a taped conversation between two of the four defendants. Prosecutors presented evidence that the suspects carjacked two vehicles in an attempt to evade capture and made nine calls from a cell phone left in one of them.
On trial for murder and related charges are Reinaldo "Rey" Berrios Jr., 21; Troy "C Murder" Moore, 25; Felix "Bugsy" Cruz, 26; and Angel "Malungo" Rodriguez, 22. Chapman was shot April 17, 2004, and prosecutors allege the suspects talked about his murder in a prison yard in Puerto Rico, where they were detained pending trial.
Defense attorneys countered that the taped conversation, on Aug. 11, 2004, could easily have meant something other than what prosecutors alleged. On the tape, portions of which were barely audible, the men talk about shooting "the man" and at one point laughed about the hesitation to fire at Berrios. During that conversation, Moore is said to have bragged of shooting Chapman. Prosecutors insisted at the trial that "the man" referred only to Chapman.
The four also face federal charges of inference with commerce by threats of violence, carjacking, carrying a firearm during a violent crime and causing the death of a person by using a firearm. Fibers found in Cruz's home linked him to one of the cars and Rodriguez was linked to nine phone calls made from one of the victims' cell phones, which was left in the car after it had been carjacked.
Chapman, who sustained three gunshot wounds, died in Puerto Rico on April 26, 2004, nine days after he had been flown there for more medical attention.
Prosecutors have said that Berrios was the attempted robber who jumped over the restaurant's counter demanding money. Chapman, who was off duty but doing security work at the restaurant, pointed his service weapon at Berrios and ordered him to freeze, prosecutors said.
Moore and Cruz entered through a side door carrying semiautomatic weapons and fired from behind at Chapman, who was unaware of their presence, prosecutors further alleged. They say Berrios also shot at Chapman, while Rodriquez remained in a vehicle outside and served as the getaway driver.
No money was taken from the restaurant.
According to testimony during the trial, the four men fled the scene in a Chevrolet Cavalier, the first of two cars they stole. Police later found the vehicle abandoned in the Clifton Hill area, where it apparently crashed. In Clifton Hill, they allegedly attempted to carjack another vehicle, identified during testimony as a Honda Accord, but the car owner testified that she tossed her keys as the men approached. They carjacked another vehicle just outside Central High School, according to testimony. That car, a Toyota Echo, was discovered days later in Fredensborg.
During testimony, an expert witness for the prosecution said fibers in the Echo matched fibers from a jacket taken from a Frederiksted home where Cruz lived, while a fingerprint collected from a license plate on the Cavalier matched Rodriguez. Witnesses placed the four men together the night of Chapman's shooting. A female witness, placed in protective custody, testified that Rodriguez admitted to playing a role in the night's events that led to Chapman's shooting. During the four-week trial, prosecutors called the carjacking victims, police officers, FBI forensic experts, DNA experts and relatives of the defendants.
The prosecutors handling the case are Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Duross and Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Wallace.
Moore's attorney is St. Thomas-based Clive Rivers. Cruz's attorneys is George Hodge, also of St. Thomas. Robert King represents Rodriguez, while Warren Cole represents Berrios.
During closing arguments Friday, prosecutors used a multimedia computer presentation that showed pieces of the case coming together as if it were a puzzle. The finished puzzle was a smiling picture of Chapman in his Police uniform. Wallace asked that the defendants be found guilty.
Defense attorneys, who called no witnesses and had asked that the case be dismissed for lack of evidence, told jurors that the government's case was circumstantial. Prosecutors countered that even though there were no witnesses to the shooting, the jury could draw from evidence such as the taped conversation, cell-phone records and reports from witnesses who testified to seeing the defendants together on the fateful night.
Editor's note:This story was compiled using information from other local broadcast and print media, including the V.I. Daily News and the Avis.
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